Therapists, educators, and parents! Are you looking for spooky, fun ways to build fine motor skills with a Halloween twist? But wait, you don’t want to break the bank to do so, right? I’m here for you! In my Frugal OT series, I share all sorts of fine motor skill-building activities using supplies from my favorite go-to, Dollar Tree! You can do these activities with kids during therapy sessions, classroom centers, or at home. So, let’s get to it! Here are my top three picks for some Halloween-themed fun!
#1 Eyeball Spoon Challenge
Dollar Tree Supplies Needed: eyeballs, skeleton hands, and a bucket to hold the witch’s brew.
The kids work their spooky magic to dunk eyeballs into the witch’s bubbling brew! 🧙🔮👁
This activity is a play on spoon racing, but having the kids race each other is totally optional. Seeing how many eyeballs they can get into the bucket is just as fun!
While the kids enjoyed adding the essential ingredient to the witch’s brew, I was targeting:
🧙Fine Motor Control: Picking up the eyeballs and carrying them across the room requires precision and control when maneuvering, holding, and stabilizing the spoon.
🧙 Hand-eye coordination: Walking with a spoon while balancing an object challenges hand-eye coordination. The kids must focus on the spoon’s position and adjust it in real time to prevent the eyeball from falling.
🧙Balance and Control: This activity encourages balance and control as children strive to keep the spoon steady and level to prevent the eyeball from tipping off. This is also a great way to strengthen hand and wrist muscles.
🧙Gross Motor Skills: While the primary focus is on fine motor skills, this activity also requires coordination of the larger muscle groups.
🧙Spatial Awareness: This activity helps kids understand the space around them. They must stay within a designated path to get to the witch’s brew, enhancing their spatial awareness and perceptual motor skills.
How To Offer the “Just Right” Challenge:
It’s so easy to grade this task up (make harder) or down (make easier). Here’s how. It’s all about the spoon used to transfer the eyeballs. The deeper the bowl, the easier it is. That’s it!
See it in action on Instagram:)
#2 “Bony” Awareness
Targeting Body Awareness Skills!
Dollar Tree Supplies Needed: Skeleton, that’s it! Easy Peasy!
This is a super cute way to address body awareness during the Halloween season. Simply stated, body awareness is knowing your body’s position in space, both at rest and when moving. There are four components:
🦴Being able to name individual body parts
🦴Being able to discriminate between the left and right sides of the body
🦴Being aware of how your body is moving in space
Body awareness is an essential skill that is needed for just about everything that we do.
This skeleton from Dollar Tree worked perfectly to address this skill in a spooky, fun way. The kids were asked to mimic the “bony” position of the skeleton. They also had fun positioning the skeleton themselves and then trying to mimic it. For those needing more support, I had them try it in front of the mirror so they could see what their body was doing🎃.
See it in action on Instagram:)
#3 Help the Mummy Get To The Haunted Forest
Dollar Tree Supplies Needed: mummy hopping toy, haunted forest sign (optional).
When I saw this super cute wind-up toy at my local Dollar Tree, my eyes lit up! I haven’t seen these around in a while, but I remember being fascinated by these mobile wonders when I was a kid! Wind-up toys are so much fun, and they are a great way to address fine motor skills! Here, the kids were charged with getting the mummy ALL THE WAY down “Spooky Street” to the “Haunted Forest.” This encouraged them to wind, wind, and wind so the mummy could go the entire distance. Winding the little knob on the side of the toy can be quite difficult for little hands, but they were so motivated they pushed through!
This activity may look simple, but the kids are actually working on a ton of skills!
Spooky Skills addressed:
👻Builds Asymmetrical Bilateral Coordination: both hands are working together but doing different tasks; one hand is leading by winding up the mummy while the other is helping by holding the mummy in place.
👻Builds Grasping Skills & Hand Separation: the little knob is so tiny it’s just about impossible to use five or even four fingers, so it facilitates hand separation and a functional tripod grasp.
👻Builds Finger Strength: It takes a bit of muscle 💪🏽 to wind up the toy. This is not recommended for very young kiddos. This activity will probably work best for kids in grades K and up.
👻Builds Motor Planning Skills: Figuring out how to manipulate the toy and place it on the table requires kids to plan and sequence the motor steps. In my Instagram reel, you may notice some unusual movements, or what we therapists call compensatory movements. But that’s okay! The kids were motivated to do it again and again, allowing for a lot of practice time to get it right.
👻Builds Hand-Eye Coordination: Placing the mummy on the path requires kids to visually scan the area, then use their hands to place the mummy on the target. As kids watch the wind-up toy move, they use their eyes to track its path.
👻Builds Problem-Solving Skills: If the mummy didn’t quite make it to the “Haunted Forest”, the kids had to figure out what to do differently next time. This critical thinking aspect contributes to their cognitive development.
👻Builds Executive Functioning Skills: Wind-up toys help kids with executive functioning difficulties because they require focus and patience. Kids need to wind them up before seeing the toy’s movement. This fosters concentration and delayed gratification, which is essential for impulse control, planning, and sequencing.
👻Sparks Imagination: Pretend play is a great way to get kids’ creative juices flowing. The kids loved helping the mummy get to the “Haunted Forest.” Take it further by prompting them with questions like: “What will the mummy do when he gets there? Do you think there will be other mummies in the forest? Who else do you think will be in the forest?
Boy, does this activity pack a punch! So head to your local Dollar Tree and snag your wind-up toy soon! By the way, the “Haunted Forest “ sign is also from Dollar Tree!
See it in action on Instagram:)
Like what you see here? Let’s connect!
As always, have fun!
The Fun Strokes blog is designed for educational and informational use only for teachers, therapists, and parents. It is not intended as medical advice or therapeutic treatment that would be provided in an individualized treatment plan. If you suspect a child has delays, please consult an occupational therapist.